Youth driving change: Pastoralists join FAO’s Global Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Livestock Transformation, Rome

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Empowering youth to actively engage in global dialogue on the future of livestock production systems is a key objective of the CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate. As a contribution to this, we partnered with FAO to identify and support three pastoralist youth to attend the Global Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Livestock Transformation held in Rome from 25-27th September 2023, running concurrently with the FAO Global Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transformation.   

The event, co-created by and for youth, brought together two hundred young people (21-35 years old) from across the world with a professional and/or academic background in livestock, including farmers, producers and scientists.  

 Faced by an increasingly variable climate, more intense droughts and temperatures and the spread of invasive species and pests, livestock keepers, and particularly pastoralists, are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their livelihoods.  For youth, navigating these challenges becomes a critical task, and the Global Youth Dialogue served as a pivotal platform for them to exchange insights, experiences and innovative solutions.  

 The culmination of the event was the creation of the The Global Youth Statement on Sustainable Livestock Transformation, produced by the young participants. This statement, presented during the plenary session, advocated for recognizing the potential of young people to harness technology, science, modern, and traditional knowledge for achieving sustainable livestock transformation. Their call extended to urging for increased, targeted investment in scaling up and implementing innovations developed by youth in the livestock sector. The statement emphasizes the critical importance of meaningful youth engagement within inclusive, science-based approaches, led by producers, for the sustainable transformation of livestock is highlighted. 

 Moreover, the youth committed to sustaining the momentum generated by establishing the Global Youth Network on Sustainable Livestock Transformation. Guided by their intrinsic motivation, energy, and creativity, they pledged to nurture a community dedicated to caring for and protecting the livestock sector. The statement also serves as a call to action, urging governments and decision-makers to prioritize and adopt holistic, science-based approaches led by producers for the sustainable transformation of livestock, with a special consideration for the needs and perspectives of the youth.  

 On the concluding day, the cohort of youth supported by the Livestock and Climate Initiative, in collaboration with several other pastoralist youth attending the conference, convened with Gregorio Velasco Gil of FAO and Fiona Flintan, Senior Scientist at ILRI to discuss plans for the 2026 International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP). The discussion’s particular focus was on elevating the visibility and contributions of youth within the year-long initiative. Since this meeting, an IYRP pastoralist youth working group has been established.   

The CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate sponsored participants: Sara Valencia, Zuhirutu Musa and Enkhbat Sainbayer. Photo by F.Flintan/ILRI.
The CGIAR Research Initiative on Livestock and Climate sponsored participants: Sara Valencia, Zuhirutu Musa and Enkhbat Sainbayer. Photo by F.Flintan/ILRI.

Meet the Youth Supported by the Livestock and Climate Initiative 

Sara Valencia Salazar hails from Colombia and holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Sustainable Development. Her research focuses on greenhouse gas mitigation strategies in tropical livestock systems. A former Sustainability Manager at Hacienda San José, she continues to contribute as a member of the Sustainability Committee. Salazar also provides crucial consultancy services to livestock enterprises, leveraging her experience in national and international sustainability standards such as IFC-PS, Rain Forest Alliance and Aval GANSO. Notably, she played a key role in developing the GANSO endorsement, a pioneering standard for assessing sustainability in livestock farms, and a key innovation of the Livestock and Climate Initiative. 

 ‘Participating in the Global Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transformation at the FAO Headquarters in Rome has been one of the notable experiences in my career. Engaging in meaningful conversation with fellow professionals, exchanging insights on initiatives and sharing my experiences was truly enriching. Moving forward, I am committed to continued contributions in these spaces and fostering collaborative networks to champion sustainable livestock practices.’  

 Zuhirutu, a Mbororo-Fulani pastoralist hailing from the Northwest region of Cameroon, holds a master’s degree in Culture and Environment in Africa from the University of Cologne, Germany. Since 2016, she has been a dedicated advocate for sustainable pastoralism and biodiversity conservation, spearheading impactful projects including, ‘Making Rangelands More Secure in Cameroon’ and ‘The Shrinking Lake Chad and its Effects on Rural Livelihoods in the Chad Basin’. Zuhirutu is skilled in data collection and analysis, report writing and delivering compelling presentations on these crucial subjects.   

‘Attending the Global Youth Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transition in Rome was a transformative experience. In three dynamic days, the event facilitated knowledge exchange and vibrant discussions among young pastoralists globally. Engaging with peers fostered an environment for sharing experiences and ideas, transcending boundaries. A pivotal moment for me was presenting on ensuring youth participation in pastoralism, refining my public speaking skills and empowering me to champion critical causes. This experience ignited a fervour to advocate for youth roles in sustainable livestock practices and the upcoming IYRP objectives, serving as a beacon of inspiration for driving positive change in pastoralism.’  

 Enkhbat Sainbayer, originating from a pastoralist family in Mongolia’s Gobi region, has extensive expertise and passion for the livestock sector. In a previous research role, Enkhbat led initiatives to implement feedlots in Mongolia, fostering international networks for animal breeding and devising a training model for pastoralists. Notably, Enkhbat curated an extensive database of farmers and crops, supporting businesses and decision-makers. Presently contributing to the World Bank’s Livestock Commercialization Project, Enkhbat has established connections across the Mongolian livestock sector.  

‘The vibrant exchange of experiences and insights from participants worldwide was truly fantastic. I firmly believe that the youth statements made during this dialogue significantly influenced the FAO’s strategic plan. It underscores the importance of conducting such dialogues regularly and at all levels.’ 

Header image: Youth share experiences and collaborate at the Global Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Livestock. Photo by C.Minichiello/FAO.  

 View photos of the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/faonews/albums/72177720311466364  

 

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